User:Redlinenation/Freeway Removal

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Freeway Removal is a public policy initiative in urban planning designed to create mixed-use urban areas with a concentration of residential, commercial and other land uses. Also known as activity centres, cities have begun removing poorly planned infrastructure to create parks, waterfronts, and boulevards. In the redevelopment of city landscapes some governments have begun strategizing to remove freeways from urban landscapes in an effort to minimize blight and create better land use and smart growth. Freeway removal is an attempt to create transit-oriented development cities that are both walkable and bicycle-friendly.

Urban Design[edit]

In some cities, strategies have been implemented or planned for freeway removal policies which tear down highways that cut through neighborhoods. These freeways have created blight that minimized usage of land space and reduced the quality of life for city residents living in these areas. The alternative that some cities have chosen for urban design is to replace elevated highways with boulevards to restore neighborhoods that have been affected by highway construction. In some cities and states freeway removal has been proposed but these plans have not yet been completed or funded. There are political battles, in some cases, between citizens' groups who are proponents of freeway removal proposals and governments supporting the vested interests that want to keep the freeways.[1]

To increase land usage, the demolition of freeways has become a part of the discussion for both city and state’s governmental strategies. Cities planning redevelopment of certain neighborhoods such as Washington, D.C.’s Whitehurst Freeway in the neighborhood of Georgetown, have been set for demolition but have been put on freeze so the city may do an environmental impact study. Other cities such as Nashville, TN, whose government is planning to demolish their downtown loop Interstate 440, are attempting to replace these areas with parks, boulevards and mixed-use communities that will reconnect their downtowns with their adjacent neighborhoods.

Urban intensification[edit]

To counteract urban sprawl, cities have begun redevelopment plans around urban intensification. Urban Intensification, also known as Compact Cities in Europe, is an urban planning technique which promotes relatively high residential density with mixed land uses based around an efficient public transport system. Cities are redeveloping neighborhoods to concentrate growth in the center of the city with the goal of better land usage that can carry a high concentration of jobs and residents. Governments have begun to use smart growth principles to generate residential, retail and recreational development. The purpose is to transform deteriorating, low-density commercial corridors into mixed-use corridors, focused around transit-oriented development. Cities have implemented plans to utilize intensification corridors that function as boulevards with the intentions of being transit-supportive and pedestrian-friendly, and providing a focus for higher density mixed-use development.[2] The success of transit-oriented development along these corridors with subsequent increases in transit ridership has been well-documented in neighborhoods such as Ballston and Rosslyn in Arlington County, Virginia.[3] Other cities, such as Portland Oregon, have implemented freeway removal policies to create intensification corridors.

Boulevards and Urban Design[edit]

Some cities have begun removing freeways and replacing them with boulevards. Cities such as Harbor Drive in Portland, Oregon and Park East Freeway, which was replaced with McKinley Boulevard in Milwaukee, WI, were successful freeway removal projects that reduced traffic, created economic development and allowed for the creation of new neighborhoods and commercial districts. These cities have experienced economic and environment success and have become the models for alternative urban planning.


Many other cities have also begun planning or discussing the removal of freeways in their policies for redevelopment such as:


  1. ^ Freeway Removal Plans and Proposals (Preservation Institue, 2007 [cited November 22 2010]); available from
  2. ^ Melissa Shih, "Municipal Conformity to the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe: An Evaluation of Future Density Potential Along the Fairview Street Intensification Corridor in Burlington, Ontario," in (Kingston, Ontario, Canada: Queens University 2009).
  3. ^ "Urban Form Case Studies," (Ontario, Canada Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure, 2009).
  4. ^ Freeway Removal Plans and Proposals (Preservation Institue, 2007 [cited November 22 2010]); available from

External links[edit]

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